Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Who’s in a name? A few tidbits from the botanical brain-cells of Dan Heims, Terra Nova Nurseries.

Well, a rose is a rose... Until you try to name it. For hundreds of years, roses have been named for famous rosarians like Rose 'Madame Alfred Carriere' – celebrating her 130th birthday, and she's still popular! Today roses are named after feelings, country singers, and cute stuff like 'Social Climber', and 'Bubblicious'.

When we get back to Latin (this is Part II, see part I), we honor the great explorers of the past:
Wilson (E. H. "Chinese" Wilson) – one of the greatest plant explorers and a director of the Arnold Arboretum
Delavay – a French explorer in China
Sergeant – a director of the Arnold Arboretum and explorer
Menzies – an explorer of the Pacific Northwest
Tolmie – an explorer of the Pacific Northwest and California
Clark (of Lewis &) – an explorer of the Pacific Northwest
Tradescant, Hooker, and Banks – British explorers of the world
Douglas – Scottish explorer of the Pacific Northwest
von Siebold – German collector of Japanese plants

Some plants will bear the species names like hookeri, delavayi, and wilsonii, while others have the genus named in their honor like Tradescantia, Clarkia, and Douglasia. The ultimate plant nerd-name is the piggy-back plant, Tolmeia menzeisii, named after two Pacific Northwest explorers!

Plants that are named after people do carry the pronunciation of their name, and not the direct Latin pronunciation, so a plant named Forsythia (after Forsythe) is pronounced not as "for-sith-ee-ya" but as "for-sigh-th-ee-ya".

During his reign in the 1700's, Linnaeus had his own "friends and family plan," naming numerous genera after his pals. Thus his friend, Austrian Von Heucher, got his name placed at the head of my favorite genus, Heuchera (pronounced hoy-kera) – yeah it's that Austrian thing. Ever wonder then, why Hosta is pronounced "haw-sta" instead of "hoe-sta"? It was, after all, named after Thomas Host.

My German (walking encyclopedia) friend, Ulrich Fischer, was quick to point out that Host was an Austrian and we've been pronouncing it correctly all along.

As a gift to our viewers, Dan has made a downloadable copy of the new 2010 Terra Nova catalog.
Come and drool!

» Terra Nova 2010 Summer Catalog
» Terra Nova 2010 Collectors Catalog

1 comment:

  1. This is great, I was just thinking to write a similar article for the newsletter I head up. I may contact you to see if I can reference yours instead, lovely piece!